Ok. To avoid any disappointment or chastising (you wouldn’t! would you?) this is not a risotto. Hence the ” ” in the title. This recipe is an adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup, in which I decided to add a lot more rice because I was hungry, and because I thought I could turn this from a soup into a creamier pseudo-risotto. And it is creamy, but not silky like a risotto. It’s has vegetables and broth thickening with the starch of Arborio rice, which is reminiscent of a risotto, and quite frankly, I didn’t know what else to call it. Perhaps creamy, cabbage rice? But once we get past expectations and the discussion of what’s in a name, you’ll find this tastes just as sweet.
Because it has a lot of sweet, Savoy cabbage stewed down to almost nothing. Two whole pounds of cabbage go into the pot, which makes the turning of it in the early stages of cooking a little challenging–I recommend using tongs. And while it does take a lot of time to cook down, it cooks over low heat, so you can do other things as long as you set a timer to remind yourself to go back to stir and make sure the bottom isn’t burning or sticking. And if it is, you add a little more water. Easy. No standing or stirring like a risotto. Just risotto-like, in the end.
Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup
I added more rice to Marcella Hazan’s original soup recipe to make it a heartier meal, which turns it from a soup to something more risotto-like. This isn’t a traditional risotto where you stand and stir the entire time (although some stirring is required at the end.) It’s simply a delicious, warming bowl that will keep you full and warm you up on cold nights.
2 pounds Savoy cabbage
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs white wine vinegar
4 c vegetable broth diluted with 1 c of water (5 c total)
1 c of water or more as needed
1 1⁄2 c Arborio rice
2 tbs butter
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan
Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. Shred the remaining head of cabbage very fine, either with your food processor’s shredding attachment or by hand. Be sure to remove the cabbage’s inner core.
Put the onion and olive oil in a large, deep pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring, until it’s softened and taken on some color. Then add the garlic. When the garlic has turned a pale gold, add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well (use tongs to make this easier), and cook it until it has wilted.
Add salt, pepper, and the vinegar to the pan. Turn the cabbage over once, completely, then lower the heat to minimum and cover the pan tightly. Cook for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it is very tender, stirring from time to time. I stirred the cabbage about once every 20 minutes, so I set a timer and carried on with other tasks. You can add a little water if the cabbage starts to dry out too much or burn at the bottom. I added about 1/4 cup as soon as I turned the heat down to minimum and I cooked the cabbage for about 65-70 minutes.
Add the diluted broth to the cabbage and turn the heat up to medium. When the broth comes to a boil, add the rice. Stir and cook, uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the soup bubbles at a slow but steady boil, stirring from time to time until the rice is done. It must be tender, but firm to the bite, and should take around 20-30 minutes. If while the rice is cooking, you find the liquid is evaporating too quickly, cover for a while between stirring and if necessary, add just a little more water.
When the rice is done, before turning off the heat, stir in the butter and the grated cheese. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Serve hot.